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Milliken at Interpack 2017 highlights the protection offered to PET packaging by its ClearShield UV absorbers.
Milliken at Interpack 2017 highlights the protection offered to PET packaging by its ClearShield UV absorbers.
Photo: 12

At interpack 2017, Milliken is highlighting how its ClearShield Colorless UV Absorbers bring real value to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging by effectively protecting UV-sensitive contents from degradation while maintaining the material's clarity and transparency.

Brand owners are responding to consumer demands by replacing artificial colorants and preservatives with more natural ingredients in everything from solid food, drinks and vitamins, to home- and personal-care products such as shampoos, dyes and cleaning chemicals.

But this creates a new challenge, since exposure to UV light can degrade such ingredients, and negatively impact the appearance, fragrance, color, flavor or nutrient value of the contents.

To ensure product consistency, and hence brand integrity, the contents of PET packaged goods must be protected from exposure both to sunlight and to indoor lighting during storage, distribution, retail display and post-purchase storage. This is where Milliken is making a difference.

Using real-life examples and case studies, such as personal care (shampoo, liquid soap and shower gels, as well as cosmetics); household cleaning products (detergents, hand soaps and dishwasher gels); various solid foods and spices; juices and energy drinks; and vitamin packaging (where such protection is vital since most vitamins are sensitive to light, heat and oxygen), Milliken explains how these additives create a new UV protection performance standard for PET bottles and containers.

ClearShield offers an alternative, simpler way to protect against UV exposure. By incorporating the UV absorber into the PET package itself, this technology allows brand owners to remove the often-high loadings of UV additives that they previously had to include in the formulations of the packaged contents themselves, according to the company.

ClearShield absorbers filter 95% of UV light at up to 390 nanometers and are effective at very low loadings, enabling the use of more highly UV-sensitive natural essences, fragrances and colorants in the packaged products. In many cases, by reducing the stabilizers and preservatives needed as a result, it often is possible to also reduce formulation complexity, which in turn can reduce cost.

Approved for food-contact applications by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), ClearShield overcomes the deficiencies of traditional technologies, including unwanted color, migration and bloom.

The absorbers are easy to handle and meter and, since they are incorporated into the PET itself, do not extract into beverages. Moreover, the use of ClearShield-modified PET simplifies processing by resisting plate-out onto injection molded preform and bottle molding surfaces.

"For starters," said Milliken Technical Manager Simon Bousquet. "Formulators can obtain similar protection while using approximately 20 times less UV ClearShield absorber than traditional absorbers in the formulation. It also eliminates concerns about toxicity or wastewater contamination by some of the chemicals traditionally used in other UV stabilizers."

"Better contents protection and extended shelf life help to reduce product waste. And by enabling greater use of more natural and uncolored PET, ClearShield helps to reduce or eliminate the need to use dark or colored containers to protect the contents," he explained. "Such opaque and colored PET materials tend to make the recycle stream dark, which can make recycling more difficult and lessen the value of the reclaimed product."

This has prompted the Brussels-based Plastics Recyclers Europe trade group to sound the alarm bell about how the rise in use of colored PET containers is "putting the future of PET recycling at risk". If collected and sorted together, PRE noted, these numerous colored containers will need extra sorting in the PET recycling plants.

For recyclers to sell this colored fraction, the material will have to be tinted in black or grey, but no market currently exists for such a material in high quantities. These "colorful" future trends will weaken the image of PET as a recycled product, the group warns.

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